Monday, December 27, 2004

So I found out what my last two grades were. Two B's. That gives me a solid B average - not great, but not my worst either, so I'm not complaining.

I had a dentist's appointment this morning. Apparently I was very lucky to make it - my parents told me that after I'd left they called to cancel because the technician was out sick. But I didn't have more than ten minutes' wait, so I guess some patient must have been out sick as well.

After that I stopped by Gretchen's. We watched "Cowboy Bebop: the Movie" and some cartoons and music videos she had downloaded and walked her puppy. Cute.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Murphy's Law #1,280:

You will not have a white Christmas. You will, however, get several inches of snow the night before you have a doctor's appointment early in the morning, if the route there takes you over two mountains and several stretches of steep or winding road.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Over the past few days I've been trying to organize my comic book collection, for the first time in four years or so. But my attempt has been halted only a fraction of the way through. Not because I lost interest or had other demands on my time, but because I ran out of polybags and cardboard backings. I had underestimated the size of my collection when I bought that stuff, apparently.

My boots were getting pretty worn out, so my parents got me new ones today for Christmas. I went with the theory of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" - the soles were going so the boots themselves had to be replaced, but they were comfortable and they fit, so I got almost exactly the same style.

Had dinner at Kendra's (a friend of my parents'). Good stuff - pizza, both regular and pesto pizza, because Kendra is allergic to tomatoes. A nice, traditional Christmas Eve dinner. :) But happily, it seems that dinner tomorrow at Laurie's actually will be nice and traditional. I'm told we're abandoning that ethnic food thing we'd done the past two Christmases. It didn't bother me nearly as much as some other people, since I can eat almost anything, but at least there'll be one less thing for people to whine about. But then, maybe I shouldn't count my chickens before they're hatched. Several in the family are vegetarians, including the hostesses, so I have to wonder what they're going to do about the ham and turkey I'm told we're having.

I've plugged my iPod into the computer speakers and I'm listening to "The Night Santa Went Crazy" and "Christmas at Ground Zero" right now.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I read The DaVinci Code today. A lot of people had been recommending it to me for a while, so on a day when I had nothing planned and nothing I needed to do between now and mid-January, I sat down and read it.

My God, it sucked.

Well, that's not totally fair. I admit, there are three reasons I'd be prejudiced against it. First, practically nothing could live up to the hype it had been given.

Second, I have a pet peeve about how a lot of authors write dialogue where foreigners speak perfect English, just perfect, except for the most common words of all, like "yes" and "mister." Frex, in the book, a French policeman - sorry, "gendarme," as I'm sure a writer of a book like this would call it - speaks English with an accent good enough to be perfectly understood, with perfect grammar, with no problem with long or rare words... but for some reason, he lapses back into his native tongue for words like "yes" and "please." I think I first noticed this in The Bourne Identity, even though I was too young to be bothered by it at the time. But I remember a bit where a woman made a code of slipping "n'est-ce pas" and stuff like that into a conversation carried out completely in English, when the other person barely spoke French at all. But whenever I see it now... it's unrealistic, it breaks the rhythm of what's meant to be smooth and natural speech, and instead of making the character look foreign or uneducated it just makes the author look pretentious.

And the third reason I enjoyed it very little is the fact that the mysticism behind it, the big revelations one after another that were the entire dramatic thrust of the book, is stuff I've seen time and again in one piece of fiction or another.

So for the first 50 pages or so I was constantly tempted to throw the book across the room whenever I saw a French word in italics. And for maybe 200 pages after that I was kind of getting into the spirituality. I was wondering what was missing in my life and how did I get so jaded and walled-off that I couldn't be moved by all that Goddess stuff. But by the end of the book, the only thought on my mind was, "Hey, I read this exact same story years ago in the Preacher comic books, only those had much better prose and a lot more nudity!"

Despite all that, I did learn something interesting from it. About writing. In theory, ideally, some day many years from now, I'd like to be a novelist. If I want to eventually make a living at it I could do a lot worse than to take a page from Dan Brown's book. You want to know why this book was so successful? Because the book is about how a guy with a sedentary desk job uses dozens of word games to thwart the plans of a secretive group of religious fanatics, supposedly striking a blow for women's rights in the process (but in fact, the book doesn't say all that much beyond, "The Dark Ages were too sexist," and that's not a bold stance at all.) Everyone with a boring job that would like some excitement, who doesn't fully trust a secretive group of religious fanatics, who thinks society has made progress since the Dark Ages, and who likes crossword puzzles would enjoy this. How many millions of people do you think that is in this country? No wonder it sold so well.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

One time, when I was apologizing for a mistake I'd made that caused him some problems, a friend of mine told me not to worry about it. He said something like, "If you aren't going to feel bad about it in ten years, don't worry about it."

Today, I made the phone call to find out that I missed all the deadlines to get my picture in the yearbook. (By several weeks. Talk about putting it off.) I wonder if I'll regret that in ten years.

For a consolation prize, I'm pretty sure a CT group shot will be in it, but... damn. And to make matters worse, this is something my parents were bugging me about, but even so I didn't do anything about it.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Earlier today I checked WebCT (the service that lets some classes have notes be posted online and homework sent in online), and found my term grade for Business Ethics was C+. Nothing to complain about there. Obviously, i should have done better im a bad student one of these days i need to learn planning and bla bla blah. But I think a C+ is an acceptable grade for a class that's just an allied field to my second major. That's the class which I was doing badly in because it was so easy to miss deadlines and stuff. And the Access Web page is slow as death, probably because of other people trying to do the same thing I am, but I finally got through. Another grade is posted - American Literature, where I got an A-.

Today I did practically nothing other than the household chores and stuff. I might have been tempted to go to town, but with the weather I didn't even think of it.
Jesus Christ it's cold out there. Zero degrees on a sunny afternoon in Middlebury, I don't want to imagine what it will be like in Bethel tonight.

And speaking of taking the Lord's name in vain, my parents got a video version of "Jesus Christ, Superstar" before I got back here, and I've already watched it twice. It only took me three years of hanging out with Gretchen and Kenny, but I'm starting to like musicals. It's an extremely weird staging, if that's the word - Judas in a black leather jacket? Apostles with spiky platinum blond hair? - but I like the way it tells the story, and it has some amazing songs.

I only have one Christmas present left to buy for someone. That's the best ratio I've had in my life five days before Christmas. (I say "ratio" because this year I've also bought presents for more people than usual.)

Jo's Yule party Saturday night was fun. We were going to see her mural, but she had to stay around the house to take care of her grandmother, so we didn't wind up leaving. We watched "Hellboy." My memories of it are pretty hazy, and I've never read the comic it's based on so I didn't know what to expect, but it was one weird movie. A demon gets raised by good guys, works for a secret branch of the U.S. government called the "Bureau of Paranormal Research&Defense," and fights a clockwork zombie Nazi assassin and some Cthulhu-like monsters. Call them Cthulhoid dogs. Ooo, is "cthulhoid" a word? If not, it should be.

Damn. Google finds 805 hits for "cthulhoid." Oh well.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Home. Nice drive back. Relaxing. Good to see pets again. Looking forward to Christmas party tomorrow at Jo's. Zoë's vacation has started, but she's gone back down to Burlington to do a day's work, so I haven't seen her yet. Considering a temp job, like subbing at high school or going back to that temp agency, for that week after New Year's but before I go back to school. I'm thinking of it partly for the money, of course, and partly because I feel like the way Zoë constantly has a paying job makes me look bad, but the biggest reason is simply the fact that before this summer I didn't really know about the options for very temporary work in this area. When I asked my dad for advice about subbing, he brought up looking for a real job. Not a bad idea, for that matter, since I'll need one in just a few months, won't I.

It's sort of funny how I can get competitive about my iPod. I have 800 songs on it. That's more songs than I've ever owned in my life, considering that after Thanksgiving break I burned 8 CDs belonging to my parents and sister onto it. (And I'm already making plans to add a few more CDs of theirs.) And yet I've talked to two people with iPods who both have hundreds more songs than me. I'm culturally deprived! I'm clueless! I used to be such a techie, but now some girls who barely know anything about computers are putting their toys to much better use than me! I'm not geeky enough! Waah!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

In the book Catch-22, there's one part where Yossarian - the main character, a very pessimistic, cynical and cowardly airman on the Italian front in World War II - goes on a bombing run and misses the target. He was too scared of the anti-air guns, so he dropped his bombs and turned around too soon. So he leads his planes around a second time. This time he hits the target, but a plane with him gets shot down.

When he gets back, his immediate superiors can't decide what to do with him. He screwed up and caused the loss of a plane and deaths of some men. But he got the job done. And the whole thing makes his superiors look bad. (I forget why, maybe they shouldn't have promoted him in the first place or something.) So what do they do? Well, they can't punish him or anything, because they, in turn, would get punished for what he did by their superiors. But they have to do something, or else they'd just be ignoring some gross negligence. What he did was too big and too unorthodox to possibly go unnoticed.

So they give him an award. He got the job done, after all, despite the odds, and at great personal risk. People can hardly criticize him for screwing up if it's in black and white that it was an act of heroism, right?

I finally understand Bush's decision to give Medals of Freedom to Bremer, Tenet, and Franks. Well, they say life imitates art... I guess it was only a matter of time before it imitated a cynical, dark comedy about the chaos and insanity of war, right?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I really did not expect this. I found yet another of those quizzes on a friend's blog, and I took it, and this is who it said I was most like:

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

I think it's weird that I enjoy seeing people embarrassed in real life - like seeing them put their foot in their mouth or something - but I can't stand it on TV. I mean, I haven't watched sitcoms in a while, but when I did I'd always change the channel or leave the room if the plot revolved around someone accidentally misinterpreting an innocent remark (happened on "Frasier" all the time) or accidentally misusing a piece of clothing or some cosmetics (happened on "Friends" a lot.) It just always seemed so stupid, so pointless, so cruel... But in real life, I find that kind of cruelty fun. The best example I can think of was a few years ago. Jon (former Tiernanite) asked me how my girlfriend was doing, and I told him we'd broken up, and I gave him a detail or two that he really wouldn't have wanted. Two reasons: to see his expression, and to make him wonder what the hell is wrong with me.

Maybe I'm just an asshole. I don't know, call it schadenfreude.

Don't start singing, Kenny, dammit!
Today I took a final exam and I finished and turned in a term paper. I think I did pretty well on both of them, knockonwood. As for the exam, there was one question I'm not sure I answered the way he wanted, and there was another question I had to puzzle over and do a lot of scratchwork on, but I'm pretty confident about the other 10 or so.

So, I'm done with two classes. Only one is left, the one I'm doing worst in. Stuff I have left to do before I leave:
Study for Business Ethics exam.
Take Business Ethics exam.
Talk to Jessica to work out exactly when we'll be leaving.

All in all, I'd say today was the hump, and I'm now over it.

Last night was pretty depressing, and not just about the work. But I'm not going to go into details because the problems are other peoples' business. Suffice it to say that I can be pretty self-absorbed at times. (No comments from the peanut gallery needed, Katye! :)) I'm talking to a friend and something she says gets me a little depressed, so the subject turns to that for a while. But she was trying to ask my advice on a more serious problem of her own all along, and I hadn't even noticed until she came right out and said it. Yes, emotions don't read well over AIM, but still. Another one of those things I should probably work on. Well, I hope you can straighten it out, (you probably know who you are,) and I'm here for you if you need it.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Peanuts is the comic strip that has made Charlie Brown a household name. Another of the main characters is a girl named Lucy. Her full name is Lucille van Pelt. "Pelt," according to, means "the skin of an animal with the fur or hair still on it." So Lucy's name could, with a little jiggering, be Lucy Fur.

Was Charles Schulz a Satanist?

Sunday, December 12, 2004

The elections for CT editors for next semester just ended. They went from noon to 7:30 p.m., and I'm told that's quite a bit quicker than how it went last year. I'm going to be one of the two copy editors. I'll still be there and involved and stuff, but it's a lot less commitment and responsibility than being a section editor or something else, so I don't have to feel guilty about leaving halfway through my term when I graduate. There was only one election result that I thought was really objectionable. Other than that, I can't complain.

During the talks, though I didn't think of it in time to bring it up with both serious candidates for Editor in Chief, I had a new idea about why the CT has so many problems with controversy. I mean, there's at least one big argument a semester, and apparently last week someone made a motion to censure us to the SA Senate or something - I don't know the details, but it didn't sound good - so it seems like we have more problems like this, proportionally, than we should.

Here's what I think: we the editors and staff all think of most of the paper - Opinions, Comics, Features - as an open forum for the student body. We'll print nearly anything sent to us, as long as it's not blatantly false or hateful or whatever. Even the other sections - they're not a forum for the writers, but we make an effort to get both sides of every issue, so to some degree it's a forum for the people we write about. So when people get mad at us, we often think they're being over-sensitive, not reading for context, shooting the metaphorical messenger, or even just complaining for the sake of it rather than doing anything to educate or raise awareness.

But I think that's not how most people see it. I think most people think of the CT as speaking with one unified voice, or trying to, or at least pretending to. I can see where they'd get that idea: the Editorial Board editorials are the first pieces in every editorial section and are usually the topic of the cartoon. Most - most - of us do tend to agree with each other and the student body on most issues. And most of the offensive stuff happens to be written by editors, or at least well-known long-term staff, rather than random students.

So I think most people read a logically incoherent or pointlessly offensive column by Rob Clemm, or a "Republicanism Now!" cartoon by Dave Pascoe where he didn't make it clear enough if he was satiring himself or the other side, and people think that's actually what the leadership of the paper believes, or even the majority.

Or, to take a more recent example that's causing the latest problems... last week we had a column on the Web page apologizing for the confusion over Ben's "interracial marriage" editorial and trying to explain it, but basically accepting responsibility for the confusion. We didn't commit to any deep changes over this, but I think we made it clear that we knew there was a mistake. But in that week's issue, we had a cartoon by copy Jay (copy editor Jason Buitrago) which was lightly making fun of the people who didn't get Ben's editorial.

To us, it was harmless and I don't think anyone even thought about how they'd look side by side. But when I heard there were problems with it, it occurred to me that if you put them together it might look like we're saying, "Okay, we're sorry you guys were too stupid to figure out what he meant."

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Well, I made it. The paper was very close to on time, and I don't even think it was all that bad.

Ray at the CT said he wished I had been accepted to Take 5 so I'd be around next year. Today I made an appointment to talk to a Take Five counselor to see what happened and stuff. Mostly just to satisfy my curiosity.

I didn't sleep last night. Now I'm struggling to stay awake until 6:30 when there's this Undergraduate English Council something-or-other I want to go to. Normally I wouldn't, but Professor Memmot will be there. He's the CT advisor and I've never actually met him in person, so I feel sort of obligated.
I'm working on my term paper in the computer lab to avoid all the distractions present in my room. It's coming along nicely and I've been saving regularly. But the mouse has frozen for some reason. I can still save and stuff by hitting the keyboard shortcuts, but in order to do anything else - save to somewhere else or under a different name or upload it back to WebRFM (how I'm moving the file around) - I have to get the mouse back. To do that, I have to restart the computer. And I've been saving to the desktop. And when a computer in the ITS Center is shut down and restarted, it automatically deletes everything on the desktop.

Should I scream at the top of my lungs and put my fist through the computer monitor, or just dislocate my knee so I'm unable to go to class?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Ah yes, what would a Wednesday night be without staying up all night to work on a paper? Of course, this week it's not the CT but a term paper, but still.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Okay, first of all: what is with the wind? I was walking back from the coffee shop, and it was literally hard to stand up straight coming back. It was unbelievable! According to the wind is between 40 and 60 mph. For a while the wind blew me around, so I turned around, spread my arms, and let it hold me up. Nisha saw it and wondered what I was doing. Which brings me to -

Okay: what is up with Tiernanites at Common Ground? I went to get a coffee before a few hours of paper-writing. Sitting at a table with a couple friends I found Nisha, waiting for a drink she had ordered. At the booth next to the table with the sugar and lids, Laura Schell is sitting talking to Diano Santos (a former Tiernanite.) Across the room, Katie Fry and Lindsay are sitting with a few other people - APO, I'd guess. And as I'm leaving I hear a distinctive laugh - it's Kenny in a table at the back, sitting with Adam Bink and a few other people. I mean, all of us together are something like a sixth of the entire Tiernan Project, and we didn't go together, we just happened to all be there seperately or with friends. Bizarre.

Finally, I gave up on waiting for my problem with AIM to go away. So I uninstalled it, reinstalled, and created a new screen name. I am now cybishop1982. Unoriginal, sure, but who cares. I like cybishop but straight "cybishop" is already taken, cybishop007 is lost to me for some inexplicable reason, and any other combination of numbers would probably be even more unoriginal than either 007 or my birth year. So, everyone add cybishop1982 to your Buddy Lists. Don't delete cybishop007 just yet, I guess, maybe I'll eventually figure out the problem.

Also, as I said, I have my old Buddy List stored by Trillian - even though I almost never use it, preferring the simple and familiar interface of AIM - so I still have all the screen names from my old list, or very nearly. However... I have no idea how to find the Buddy List file, wherever it's saved on my computer. I'd really like to avoid having to type over a hundred screen names in anew -

What the fuck? Holy shit, it seems Trillian could do it for me! As I wrote this I was fiddling around with the Trillian settings, and I told it to sign on through cybishop1982, and suddenly about 30 "xyz has signed on" AIM notices appeared. That is so cool! I still have to create my old Buddy groups for this new account, and I have to add comments with everyones' names to their screen names (but maybe I'll stick with Trillian now, where that's a bit easier), but still, this rocks! Wow!
I won't be putting as much time and thought into this entry as I'd like. But I have a term paper due soon, and not only that but in class today I thought of something even more interesting that I'd like to write about when I get the chance, so I just don't have the time to really put energy into this.

That being said, this is the political thing I was talking about. As Andrew Sullivan said on his site, where I first saw this thing, "He died. They lied." It's a blog talking about how Pat Tillman, the pro NFL player who died in Afghanistan, actually died in friendly fire and how the Pentagon hushed that up. I'd recommend that everyone read it, and the thing it links to.

As is so often true in politics, "it's not the sex, it's the lying". Who cares that he died in friendly fire? Either way it's sad, either way he was self-sacrificing. But why did the Pentagon cover it up? What else do we take for granted that key details have been left out of, or maybe even made up completely? How does this narrative supporting the war and the administration that people have made up and are constantly adding to relate to the truth, the actual state of the world we live in? Does it?

Monday, December 06, 2004

I love the tunnels. This morning I walked to Dewey and back, stopping by the Pit to get lunch on the way back, and I did it all by spending probably a grand total of less than 2 minutes out in the snow.

I went to both my classes today. It's been too long since I could say that on a Monday or Wednesday.

I've finally got around to straightening out my exam schedule, and it looks pretty good. I'll need to call/e-mail her to make sure, but if I remember correctly it looks like I'll be able to get a ride home with Jessica. Very nice.

The bad news: I have a 15 page paper due Thursday. Other than that, things are going great.

Later I really want to do this post about a political thing I saw, but I don't have the time now - there's two homework assignments I need to get to. I'll try to remember it later.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Ouch. I had a headache when I woke up this morning - hangover.

For some weird reason I can't get AIM to work. It just says "Sign on blocked" every time I try, even when I try with a different screen name or on a friend's computer, and apparently no one else has this problem. If it isn't back by tomorrow, I'll have to try creating a new screen name. But, small favors: thanks to Trillian, I can access my buddy list without being online, so even if I do have to abandon my old screen name - and I don't have the faintest idea why this happened - at least I won't lose peoples' screen names.

Wednesday was yet another night where it went well, but I don't have a clue why. I mean, I'm torn between feeling frustrated that we're so disorganized and lazy that it's always last-minute, seat-of-the-pants writing and editing, and feeling proud that we handle it so well. But anyways, that was my last paper as a news editor. I might be a copy editor next semester if they need it, and I'll definitely keep on writing and eating dinner there and stuff, but all the hard work of being an editor is over for me. Since I'm only going to be around for a semester, I can't be an editor again.

Why not reapply for Take Five next semester? I've thought about it - and in fact, it just occurred to me that I should try to find an advisor or something and ask why my proposal was rejected, if only to satisfy my curiosity - but I don't think I will. If I plan for next year assuming I would get into Take Five and I don't, it would be a huge mess. No double major, committments at the CT I wouldn't be able to keep, etc. But if I sign up for classes assuming I won't get in, then it would seriously hurt my chances of getting in, I believe, and even if I did it would completely burn me out to take eight classes of Spanish language and culture in two semesters.

Anyways... I had really planned to go to class on Thursday. With exams and final papers coming up, I can't slack off any more. But I didn't go to bed immediately after getting back to my room, so instead of waking up in class I slept through my damn alarm. That night we ("we" being a dozen or so people from the hall) went to the Boar's Head dinner. It was my first. The food was great by any standard - and by the standards of campus food, it was amazing.

Friday I made a drink run with Allison in the morning for a party later that night. In the afternoon/evening I played some games of Magic with Katye and Kenny. Around 11 I went to that party at Sandeep's in GLC, seeing his place for the first time. It was fun (but to judge by my hangover, a little too fun).

And now, I need to go get back my backpack and 12-pack, which I forgot over there.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Damn. I didn't get into the Take Five program.

As I wrote a couple weeks ago, I can't say I'm surprised. But I think I had a decent chance, despite the problems with my application. Too bad it just wasn't enough.

I think I'll go for the double major, then. Of course, that like everything else is subject to change (especially since I decided it in the past five minutes), but a double major would always look good, there doesn't seem much point in only taking one semester of Spanish, and my committments at the CT will be minimal next semester so the overload should be easy.

Speaking of which - off to work. This is our last paper of the semester, of our term as editors, so I'd better get back to work on my story.